With June just at the start and the whole summer waiting to begin, one may think that Fall, or Autumn depending on where you’re currently reading this, is as far as it can be – but while we’d love for you to enjoy the sunny months ahead, we think that they may be even more enjoyable with the prospect of a foodie trip waiting for you in the the following months.
A few reasons to choose Fall for your Italian foodie expedition?
First, the temperatures. Autumn months usually boast a spectacular weather, with bright skies, very little rain and golden-tinted evenings; the South – which can be unbearable with August's scorching heat – becomes the perfect destination in September and October, blessed with temperatures warm enough for your daily dip in the Apulian Sea or an afternoon stroll through the Sassi of Matera.
This is also the perfect season to enjoy some of the best delicacies Italy has to offer: grapes have been basking in the sun for some months and are now harvested to produce great wine, purple Crocus flowers produce the crimson gold known as saffron, truffles are finally ready to come to light and be grated on your home-made pasta, seasoned Pecorino has developed its best aroma after resting the whole year in terracotta pots or wrapped in walnut leaves.
Combining walking and eating in a trip is the perfect way to eat away the guilt factor - you are walking all day long and won't have to worry about calories. In fact, you need them!
We have listed for you the perfect trips to enjoy this blessed season with the perfect combination of walking and eating: from Piedmont to Sardinia, from Tuscany to Sicily, here are the perfect destinations to fall in love with food!
Autumn is our favourite season on Via Francigena: the rolling hills and forests of Val d’Elsa are dyed amber and tangerine, the air is still warm but gets crispier towards the evening, enough to caress your bare skin as you dine outside in the Medieval piazza.
In San Miniato – the town marking the beginning of our “Heart of Via Francigena” trip – Fall is all about celebrating the white truffle, a local pride: the yearly truffle festival takes place at the end of November but starting from October you’ll be able to taste the noblest of fungi on your risotto, with your eggs, or even on your beef carpaccio.
Saffron cultivation was first documented in 1200, but the ancient Medieval methods to grow and gather this “red gold” stand valid to these days: from the crocus flowers being harvested at the first light of dawn to the drying next to glowing embers, these ancestral ways are still necessary to produce this brightly coloured, intensely aromatic spice.
The towered town of San Gimignano produces one of the three PDO (a recognization for Protected Designated Origin) varieties of Saffron in Itay: rigorously stored in glass containers to preserve its freshness, this precious product can be typically savoured on risotti and pasta – but if your tastebuds are up for a challenge, you can try it on lamb, beef, or even mussels!
Another great trip to walk & taste? Our hilltop towns of Val d'Orcia trip, from Montepulciano to Siena: from the red liquid gold of Montepulciano to the Ricciarelli of Siena (perfect in almond season), every day tastes better and better.
The best Autumn destination for a foodie lover? Probably.
Piedmont has certainly a lot to offer in this blessed season, especially as you walk your way in the Langhe.
The iconic landscape of geometric rows of vineyards swift from bright green to iridescent shades of gold, amber and brown and the menus gets richer with fresh Alba truffle (perfect with home-made tajarin!) , chestnuts, hazelnut-everything, mushrooms and Barolo stewed beef – a rich, hearty dish that you would probably skip in the Italian summer but becomes just perfect with the cool evening air!
All roads lead to Rome, but it’s even better if you can eat your way to (or from) the eternal city! The last region to be touched by the Northern section of Via Francigena and the one from which the Southern section departs, Latium is yet another perfect Fall destination.
Pecorino Romano, the king of local cheeses – the only one allowed on Pasta all’Amatriciana, for example (together with Carbonara, a local religion more than a dish) -
is perfect for this season, having seasoned enough to
deliver the aromatic, slightly spicy taste.
Although Pecorino is always associated with Rome – its origins are in Lazio, with the ancient Roman legionaries having it as a staple in their diet – most of its production is to be found in Sardinia, where has become now a recognized variety on its own.
In fall, this enchanting island is a real haven for cheese and hiking lovers alike – temperatures are perfect for hiking its coasts and ravines and the island gets lively with “cortes”, local food festivals celebrating local products.
Finally, Sicily – with extreme temperatures long gone,September and October are the perfect months to enjoy our walk on Magna Via Francigena, from Palermo to Agrigento.
Food lovers won’t be disappointed: to begin the feast with, Sicily is well known for its “frutta secca” and Autumn is the perfect time of the year to snack on almonds and pistachios, hazelnuts and walnuts. Etna’s chestnuts are used for sweet and Savory dishes alike – from soups to cakes, from rich chestnuts cream to spread on bread to delicious gnocchi made with chestnut flour.
A local recipe to ask for? Home-made paccheri with broccoli, anchovies, raisins and breadcrumbs. Thank us later!